Small Business Glossary

Intellectual Property (IP) - definition & overview

Contents

What is Intellectual property, or IP?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names and images used in commerce. 

IP is protected in law by patents, copyrights, and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. Key insights about intellectual property:

  • Intellectual property is a broad categorization of intangible assets that are not physically tangible but are created through human intellect.
  • Ownership and legal protection of intellectual property are crucial as these assets hold significant value in today's knowledge-driven economy.
  • Intellectual property can be categorized into several types: patents, copyrights, trademarks, franchises, trade secrets, and digital assets.

The main types of intellectual property are:

  • Patents provide exclusive rights to inventions, designs, processes, or physical products.
  • Copyrights give authors and creators exclusive rights to use, copy, or duplicate their original works like books, music, films, and online content.
  • Trademarks are symbols, phrases, or logo that legally separate a company's products or services from others.
  • Franchises are licenses that allow a franchisee to use a franchisor's name, trademark, and proprietary knowledge.
  • Trade secrets are a company's confidential processes or practices that provide an economic advantage.
  • Digital assets, such as proprietary software code or online content.

Intellectual property rights allow owners to prevent others from recreating, mimicking, or exploiting their work without authorization. Infringement of these rights can occur through patent, copyright, or trademark violations.

NAVA (National Association for the Visual Arts) asserts that artists and designers are entitled to control the use of their intellectual property through legal tools like copyright and moral rights. NAVA advocates for the protection of artists' economic and moral rights both in law and in practice.

For more information, read more here: https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/

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